Monday, September 29, 2008

Vancouver weekly blog awards; award ceiling

I just tallied the votes for this week’s Vancouver Election Blog Awards. The four winners are the same as last week, but awards have shifted a little – see ballot. Thank you all participants!

Going forward, you’ll see on the ballot that I decided to revert the award ceiling from $150 back down to the $100 that we were using through July 14. I think of the ceiling as training wheels which I’d like to remove eventually. In this early experimental stage of the blog awards, funding is limited to what I can afford. So publicity is limited, partly because the award pool doesn’t motivate enough publicity from the bloggers. As a result, our voter sample is probably not broad enough to be representative of all Vancouverites. But when I pitch for foundation funding, I’d like to show preliminary results that are more reflective of how the awards would work out with a broader voter sample.

To see what effect the ceiling had, I tried raising it for a while. Ideally, I’d like to give voters as much power as possible, including the freedom to allocate awards any way they want. But for now I think this bicycle is tilting too far, so I’ve lowered the training wheels back down.

By the way, we also plan to attract and retain more voters by building a new ballot with features like the latest headline from each media/blog.

I welcome your comments and suggestions on all this!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UBC VoterMedia Awards first weekly results

I've just counted the votes in the first weekly round of the UBC VoterMedia Awards (also called voter funded media, VFM, blog contest). Congratulations to our first two entrants and prize winners UBC Insiders and Global Ink.

The second week's ballot is now open for voting, with our third entrant The Devil's Advocate added (welcome!). Weekly award pool has increased to $150. See info page for voting instructions.

As I proposed in this post, I will soon publish names of people who vote here, to thank them for this community service. You can opt out of this on the ballot. I've revised the awards contest terms accordingly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Should I publish voters’ names?

Should I publish on the names of people who vote in the UBC and Langara blog contests? (This wouldn’t apply to the Vancouver blog awards, where I don’t know the voters’ names.)

My goal is to increase voter turnout, which is terribly low so far. Would it work?

Voting is a community service. It benefits the democratic community of all students at UBC or Langara. The benefit of your vote to yourself is minuscule, perhaps not enough to make it worth spending the time. That’s why many people don’t bother voting.

But the benefit of your vote to the community is significant. Maybe letting everyone know who voted would enhance their reputations enough to motivate more people to vote. People may encourage their friends to vote.

The confidentiality of voting is an important democratic principle, but what needs to be confidential is which way you voted, not the fact that you voted. So I’m proposing to list who voted, not the voting decisions.

I wouldn’t start doing this without warning. I’d let everyone know about it and give them the option not to be listed. I’d show who registered to vote, then who voted each week, perhaps with cumulative statistics e.g. how many weeks they voted in so far.

What do you think of this idea?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vancouver Election Blog Awards weekly update

I've just tallied the votes for this past week. The awards came out the same as last week. So congratulations to prize winners Beyond Robson, The Tyee, David Eby and Frances Bula -- see ballot at Thank you to all participants -- media/blogs and voters.

As usual, details of votes and award allocation method are in spreadsheets linked here.

I get the sense that I've been over-emphasizing the competitive aspect of voter funded media, so I changed the name from "Vancouver Election Blog Contest" to "Vancouver Election Blog Awards", took out the ranking numbers, and changed some of the wording on the ballot and the terms.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

UBC weekly blog contest voting started

I've just opened the ballot for voting in the UBC Blog Contest -- see

We only have 2 competitors so far -- Global Ink and UBC Insiders. We expect more soon. There's no entry fee.

Votes are counted and awards made every Thursday (usually).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vancouver contest weekly update

Voters lifted new entrant Beyond Robson straight to the #1 spot and $150, the highest weekly prize ever awarded since this contest began in May. Congratulations to them!

See latest rankings and awards on the current ballot at

Some of our discussion from this earlier post is relevant to the current dramatic re-ranking.

Details of votes and award allocation method are on spreadsheets linked here.

Please welcome the next new contestant, added this week: Only Magazine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

UBC & Langara Blog Contests Launched

I’ve just launched blog contests at University of British Columbia and at Langara College in cooperation with their student unions. See info pages –

Like the Vancouver Election Blog Contest, we will pay weekly cash prizes to the top-ranked contestants. There’s no entry fee, and anyone can enter a blog or other media. Our goals are to improve voter information and engagement in their democratic communities, but contestants and voters are free to emphasize whatever content they choose.

The contests differ on their voter registration method and ballot access:
- Vancouver ballot is an open web page with no registration required;
- UBC registration and ballot are on the university’s Vista Blackboard course management system;
- Langara students register to vote by emailing me their mylangara email address; then each week I email them a link to the ballot.

The ballot formats and vote tallying methods will be similar to what we’re using in the Vancouver contest.

We’re already open for blogger entries and voter registration. Voting will start soon.

Please spread the word!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vancouver contest updates

The Tyee has regained first place in the Vancouver Election Blog Contest, as of today’s weekly vote tally. See current ranking on the ballot.

Welcome new contestant Beyond Robson!

The vote tallying method is explained here, with link to spreadsheet showing vote percentiles.

I’ve updated the contest terms to include a listing of the representative of each contestant.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Political debates at VPL

There are some interesting political debates coming up, to be held at the Vancouver Public Library main branch, on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm:

Arguing the AFFIRMATIVE:
MAUREEN BADER, BC Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Arguing the NEGATIVE:
JIM SINCLAIR, President, BC Federation of Labour
[The carbon tax debate previously scheduled for this date "will re-surface in the near future".]

October 1: First Mayoral Debate -- Peter Ladner vs Gregor Robertson
Journalist panel includes Stephen Quinn, CBC Radio One, Alex G Tsakumis, 24 Hours/CTV Vancouver, and Frances Bula, Vancouver Magazine/Langara College

October 29: Second Mayoral Debate -- Peter Ladner vs Gregor Robertson
Journalist panel includes Stephen Quinn, CBC Radio One, Alex G Tsakumis, 24 Hours/CTV Vancouver, and Frances Bula, Vancouver Magazine/Langara College

November 12: "RESOLVED: SkyTrain is a costly mess; LRT is the only way to go." Speakers TBA

Full updated details here.